Rachel Odem began blogging while she attended beauty college as a way to journal about what she was learning. As a former editor of her school newspaper, she loved to write so blogging felt like a perfect fit. Her blog and YouTube channel began to grow organically from there.
"I used to be a professional model and I also attended beauty college, which made my blog stand out when I first started," says Rachel pictured here on the packaging of Organic Root Stimulator. "Think about what makes you and your experiences unique and bring that into your blog and your conversations with brands."
"I started the Chicago Naturals Meetup Group, which has been the primary way I have connected with brands and earned an income from blogging," says Rachel, who runs the largest natural hair meetup group in Chicago with 3,200 members and has hosted over 40 events since its inception. "Brands have contacted me from my blog and they will ask if they can be a sponsor for my events. I highly encourage new bloggers to get connected with a community."
"Find local brands in your area and reach out to them," says Rachel. "I work with a lot of Chicago-based brands, such as Organic Root Stimulator and the local Sally Beauty. Whenever they have an event in my area, it's great to work with them and have that relationship. Master your market and connect with brands in your area."
"Make sure your blog is something you are passionate about," says Rachel, pictured here with celeb stylist Kim Kimble. "Your blog will be a lot of hard work and it should be a part of your lifestyle. You should always be looking for opportunities to connect with your readers, so pick a topic that will come easily to you."
"Contrary to popular belief, it can take a long time to build a following and make money from your blog," advises Rachel. "Make sure you are posting consistently and finding creative ways to post to multiple platforms, including not just your blog, but various social media accounts, too. It's a lot of work, so be sure to stay organized with your postings."
"Blogging is a business, especially when you begin to work with brands and do travel and events," says Rachel. "You should be doing research every day and treating your blog like a full-time job. It's one thing to post photos, but the best approach is to stay engaged. Go on social media and interact with your fans, followers and other brands you'd like to work with."
"If there is a brand you want to work with, follow them on Instagram and keep up with what they're posting," advises Rachel. "Often times, brands will post about events or casting calls right on social media. Those are great opportunities for you to attend in person and meet their publicists or marketing managers."
"Don't compare your blog to anyone else. It can get overwhelming if you're looking at how many followers or subscribers other bloggers have," says Rachel. "Just remain consistent, work hard, and God will open the right doors for you."
Jodi LaMont started her YouTube channel, The Brilliant Beauty as a hobby while she was a college student. From there, her blog began to grow organically and now she runs her channel and social media accounts full time as an influencer for beauty and hair brands.
"I didn't start with a huge budget. I used a good-enough camera that filmed in HD, and was more cost-efficient than a DSLR for me at the time. These days, even iPhones can shoot great video if you have good lighting. There are a lot of free resources online and YouTube that can show you how to get started on a budget."
"When my channel started to grow, I pinpointed what kind of content my viewers responded to," says Jodi. "I started doing cool, trendy hairstyles which was different from other bloggers and helped me stand out."
"When you first start out, don't keep up with the Joneses," advises Jodi. "I was in college when I first started, so I didn't have the resources or connections other bloggers had. If you're first starting out, be realistic about your goals and don't envy other bloggers. Focus on learning and mastering your craft."
"I was able to quit my job when I reached about 30,000 subscribers on YouTube," reveals Jodi. "If you want to make an income from your blog, develop a business model where you have multiple revenue streams. You can make money through affiliate programs, advertising, sponsored posts and events or speaking engagements, to name a few."
"I am consistent about responding to comments and talking to my followers," says Jodi. "Sometimes, I will even ask my subscribers what videos they want me to film and I'll let them vote on my next hairstyle. I definitely recommend building a personal connection to your followers."
"Have at least three types of content and sources of income for your blog," says Jodi. "There are a lot of changes in the digital world and when working with brands. At any one time your traffic or revenue can fluctuate. If you have multiple projects going on, you can stay afloat if there are slow seasons or when the unexpected happens."